Football Opens Kiffin Era with Loss to No. 5 Gators


OXFORD, Miss. – Despite 613 yards of total offense, the Ole Miss Rebels (0-1 SEC) had few answers for Florida quarterback Kyle Trask as they fell 51-35 to the No. 5 ranked Florida Gators to open the 2020 season.

Sophomore quarterback Matt Corral completed 22 of 31 passes for 395 yards and three touchdown passes, two of which went to Dontario Drummond on both of his two catches. Elijah Moore also had 10 catches for 227 yards, the second most in a single game in Ole Miss history and most against an SEC opponent in school history.

Defensively, the Rebels were led by Keidron Smith, who finished with 12 tackles, followed by Jacquez Jones and Jaylon Jones, who combined for 15 tackles. The Rebel defense gave up 642 yards, 446 of which came through the air.

The Rebels moved the ball methodically in the first quarter, reaching Gator territory each drive. Matt Corral started the game at quarterback, while sophomore John Rhys Plumlee was lined up at wide receiver on Ole Miss’ first drive.

On the opening drive of the season, Ole Miss was unable to convert on 4th down as Matt Corral took a sack at Florida’s 23-yard line. Florida would capitalize with a 13-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a Kyle Trask touchdown pass to Kyle Pitts on the goal line to draw first blood.

The Rebels would immediately respond with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Corral to Dontario Drummond over the middle of the field for their first points of the season, tying the game at seven apiece with 3:43 left in the first quarter.

Following the touchdown, A.J. Finley came up with Ole Miss’ first defensive turnover of the season with an interception as a result of quarterback pressure from Ryder Anderson. The Rebels then went to their bag of tricks on offense with a double pass from Corral to Drummond, who hit Jerrion Ealy on the Ole Miss sideline for a 45-yard gain. Corral would be intercepted two plays later, though, off of a batted ball at the line of scrimmage. Florida only needed three plays to retake a 14-7 lead, capped off with another Trask touchdown pass to Trevon Grimes on a 22-yard fade pattern.

Corral responded to the Florida touchdown with his legs en route to the Gator redzone. He found Drummond once again with a 14-yard touchdown toss to tie the game, 14-14, with 12:04 left in the first half. Both teams would then trade punts until Trask led another efficient Gator drive that ended with his third touchdown pass of the game to Kadarius Tooney in the back of the end zone for 16 yards.

John Rhys Plumlee was then inserted at quarterback for the first time with 3:01 left in the first half. The Rebels would proceed to go three-and-out, leaving the Gators with 1:54 left to score. Trask used eight plays to go 81 yards and found Pitts for the second time in double coverage. Trask’s 16-yard touchdown pass gave Florida a 28-14 lead going into halftime.

It wouldn’t take long for Florida to seize control for good. Two plays into the third quarter, Trask found Pitts for the third time with a 71-yard touchdown strike on a deep pattern to take a 35-14 lead with 14:19 in the third. The Rebels responded with a two-play drive of their own, with Corral finding Elijah Moore wide open for a 57-yard gain. Ealy then hit the end zone from 18 yards out with 13:43 remaining in the third quarter to cut Florida’s lead to 35-21.

 Ole Miss held firm defensively in their own territory, forcing Florida to settle for a 55-yard field goal from Evan McPherson with 9:30 in the third quarter. Elijah Moore would once again get behind the Gator defense with a 51-yard gain, but a costly holding penalty on a Moore TD scamper and a missed 42-yard field goal by Luke Logan kept the Rebels off the scoreboard.

Florida then used Emory Jones to get the Gators in the Ole Miss red zone, but again the Rebels held them to another McPherson field goal, this one from 37 yards out to extend their lead to 41-21.

At 12:54 in the fourth quarter, McPherson hit another field goal from 23 yards out to take a 44-21 lead. Ole Miss senior Kenny Yeboah broke out on the following drive for the Rebels, hauling in two passes of at least 30 yards from Corral and sealed a five play, 81-yard drive with an eight-yard TD reception on an extension at the goal line. Jonathan Mingo caught the two-point conversion to make the score 44-29 with 11:00 left to play.

The Rebels had a chance to force a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but a roughing the passer call kept the Florida drive alive. The Gators took advantage, draining 5:37 off the clock before finding Pitts in the endzone for the fourth time Saturday for a 17-yard TD. Snoop Conner followed that by capping off a 16-play, 75-yard drive with a goal line score with 58 seconds left. The Rebels recovered the ensuing onside kick and marched down to the Florida 10-yard line but could not convert on two pass attempts in the final eight seconds, ultimately falling to Florida, 51-35.

Ole Miss will hit the road for the first time next week to No. 23 Kentucky. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CT in Lexington, and the game will air on SEC Network.